GRADING AND ADJUDICATION

General discussions about grading.
Chris Majer
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GRADING AND ADJUDICATION

Post by Chris Majer » Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:18 pm

Copy of Report to ECF April Council Meeting

Recently (see debate on the SCCU website) Stewart Reuben pointed out that:
1) the FIDE laws of chess do not allow for adjudication;
2) the ECF has declared in its own literature (i.e. the grading list) that for games to be eligible for grading the FIDE laws of chess are to be applied.
Stewart's view is that the ECF should not grade adjudicate games.

The ECF sets its own rules for its own grading system and so can determine the conditions for eligibility for grading as it sees fit. The wording in the grading list derives from Chris Howell and was part of a number of wording changes introduced primarily to address Fischer-style timings, which were then just coming in. It was not the intention of Chris Howell to exclude adjudicated games. I in turn, copied an existing wording, aware that adjudicated games were being graded but unaware that the wording forbade this.

I would certainly consider that getting rid of adjudications is a laudable long-term aim (I believe that they are in decline anyway). Consequently I ask all leagues to give thought to this. However, I do not consider it appropriate to insist on the letter of the FIDE laws for grading and so will continue to accept adjudicated games for grading. I will of course find a new form of words for the grading list description to clarify that adjudicated games will be accepted for grading.
Chris Majer
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James Toon
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Post by James Toon » Fri Apr 06, 2007 11:20 pm

Is the April Council going to make a decision about this, and if so will it be announced soon? I'm sure my own league (Civil Service Chess League) is not the only one looking for a lead from the ECF on this issue.

Our own default method of finishing games is adjudication. Efforts are made to change this at most AGMs but none of them has yet secured the required majority.

If the ECF adopts Stewart Reuben's view, leagues with adjudication will have two options: either move to quickplay and risk losing some of their members, or retain adjudication and opt of the ECF payment for grading scheme. In the latter case they would presumably publish their own grades, but risk losing some of their more active players who play in more than one league and won't want an official and an unofficial grade.

Either of these courses would hit league and (presumably) ECF finances. Which is a pity, because finishing a game in one session is surely where league chess is heading in the long term.

Chris Majer
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April Council Meeting

Post by Chris Majer » Fri Apr 06, 2007 11:49 pm

Responding to question raised:
Is the April Council going to make a decision about this, and if so will it be announced soon? I'm sure my own league (Civil Service Chess League) is not the only one looking for a lead from the ECF on this issue.
There is no proposal before ECF Council on this topic. I would not expect (though this is a personal opinion) that any such proposal would be permitted on the day (due to disenfranchising postal voters).

If the April Council meeting expressed an opinion that we should discontinue to grade adjudicated games; a proposal could be brought to the October 2007 Council meeting. As some leagues would already have started this would be for implementation in the 2008/9 season

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Chris Majer
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Kevin Markey
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Post by Kevin Markey » Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:51 pm

I read with interest Stewart Reuben's note re grading games where a possible adjudication could occur . Unfortunataly If we were to refuse to grade games when an adjudication was possible this would include the vast majority of games in the NGCL and result in a substantial financial loss to the ECF. Although Stewart has a valid point I agree with the view that this is a non starter. It would cause ill will in many leagues.
I strongly support the comments of Chris Meyer about discouraging (but not enforcing) adjudications in local leagues particularly as I am the North Gloucestershire League Secretary responsible for the work involved when they arise.
We have 3 options in our league quickplay, adjournment or adjudication's with many still insisting on the latter often at the end of play one participant hopes the adjudicator finds something in his favour safe in the knowledge he has no further work to do. This week I have received Four adjudications to organise and because participants can't be bothered our league adjudicators have to give up what little time they have to adjudicate efefctively assisting the players (which I believe is contary to FIDE rules).
I have noticed a drop in Adjudication's over the past two years for a number of reasons unfortunately a drop in participant numbers being among them. I whole heartily agree that we should discourage them on the forum Chris Meyer suggests an amendment that in effect says adjudication results can be included for grading. I hope I haven't misinterpreted this and his reason for doing this is well intended however in my opinion this does little to discourage adjudications
It is relatively simple to determine which games result have been decided by adjudication and I would be happy not to submit them for grading which still gives a choice for players and options for leagues.
Kevin Markey

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Greg Breed
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Post by Greg Breed » Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:19 am

I think that there is more to it than this. In my local league I have had only one adjudication request. It is a last resort if an adjournment cannot be arranged. This becomes more prevalent towards the end of the season when there is simply no more time to fit in adjourned games before the deadline and also if both parties are simply too busy to fit it in.

However, in another league I play, the default request is adjudication. Our captain informs us how to arrange it so that we always get a favourable result (not in adjudication terms but a Home adjournment).

So different leagues have different viewpoints and different rules. The further a team has to travel to play a match the more likely adjudications will arise, as adjournments become a real pain. The alternative - time controls that mean 'on-the-night' finish - would drive away a real chunk of the playerbase.
As an example, in the Hillingdon League (which I control), a reasonable guess at the outcome of a change to 'finish-on-the-night' time controls would wipe out a quarter of the teams who wouldn't agree to this.

Not grading adjudicated games would adversely affect those who use it for genuine reasons as opposed to those who are mentioned by Kevin Markey who hope a stronger adjudicator will find a line unseen by the players.
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David Robertson
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Post by David Robertson » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:42 pm

I posted this to the Atticus forum a few days back on a similar thread
David wrote:To be frank, I can't see what the problem is.

Adjudication has little or nothing to do with a competitive game of chess. It is an administrative device deployed in the management of certain chess competitions/leagues, forced by the need to produce a match result. The fact that an expert is used to determine the result only sharpens the falsity or impurity of the process, given that the players in the source game will be weaker, often substantially so, and lack the judgement of the expert. Hence every adjudicated game has a 'false' outcome. That outcome may be tolerated for practical reasons in a local league, but it has no place at all in a national grading system.

As SteveC says, we used it in the MCA until a decade ago. I'd like to think we renounced the practice as an act of principle. But we didn't, I recall. We simply ran out of players strong enough and willing to spend time on a tiresome task. Moreover, we disincentivised the process first by charging an adjudication fee; that cut the number of frivolous claims. Thereafter commonsense broke out. If you had John Carleton or John Littlewood in the room at the end of a match, the nod from one of them spared you an adjudication. So stronger players began to 'police' the process on the night. Eventually it became clear that sitting on a pawn advantage and waiting for the verdict was not the happiest way of concluding an evening's chess. When match results turned on the issue, it created bad feeling too.

On reflection after a decade's experience, I'd never vote to return to adjudication. A guillotine finish may be far from ideal, not least with some dodgy practice in view, but at least it requires chess played out to a conclusion between two people.

Finally, I'll go further (as is my wont :) ). Not only is there no place for adjudicated results in grading lists; there is no place for adjudicated games anywhere (except in correspondence chess, I guess)
And I've not changed my view on that last point by anything I've read here. I sympathise of course with those, like Greg, who claim they'd lose player support if there was a shift from adjudication. But that's no defence of adjudication. Where some players (the shabby sweater brigade) are natively conservative in their readiness to embrace change, there the case needs to be pressed more urgently.

David

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Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:24 pm

Many opponents use adjournments in league chess as a means to avoid conceding an unfavourable result. This "Course Chess" tactics depend on the hope that
a) their opponent might fall under the number 7 bus before the game is resumed
b) their opponent might forget the envelope, seal an illegal move or simply forget to turn up at all
c) their opponent might simply give up after weeks and months of being unable to arrange a suitable date and time for resumption.

Adjournments are also used as a means by the weaker party to deaden play, as after all who wants to sacrifice a pawn for interesting, but unclear compensation, if the opponent will only have to play another few moves before being able to consult Grandmaster Fritz. So a typical chess method employed by the stronger player is denied to him or made a very risky venture.

Interestingly, one of the other threads in this forum concern distortions in the ECF grading system. One of these distortions is the apparent phenomenon that below a grade of 216 or so, lower graded players appear to perform somewhat better than predicted against higher grade players. This doesn't really surprise me at all; after all in a considerable number of games, the two players involved blunder around at the level of club players for 30 or so moves and then when they resume some weeks later, they play the remainder of the game as grandmasters, both having in the interim made profitable use of Fritz. Little wonder indeed that the grading list is distorted: both players involved will have played half of their game at exactly the same level of chess understanding and accuracy (i.e. super grandmaster!)

Adjudications are used primarily as a means to cut down on adjournments where the result is clear but one of the players involved doesn't want to concede an unfavourable result.

Unfortunately though, this virtuous effect is often negated by a couple of related and wholly negative side-effects. The first is that few players are going to take the risk that the adjudicator will find the player's interesting dynamic exchange (e.g. compensation for a pawn or a compromised pawn structure) insufficient. So, naturally, fewer pawns will be sacrificed, again deadening play and levelling the differences between the players. The second, related, negative side-effect is that a player who doubts his technical ability to win or draw a game will never have to demonstrate it; they will simply allow the adjudicator instead to demonstrate his, presumably, much greater technical ability to win it for him!

Neither adjourned games (which are in effect correspondence games) nor games decided by adjudication should be graded. One is, after all, explicitly forbidden from consulting external sources of advice, whether these might be books, computers or other players and any game in which such external help was sought would be defaulted and the player involved forbidden from further play in the competition concerned. Why should this necessary rule be suspended after 30 or so moves?

And why should it be suspended only in England? I have played chess in a number of different countries; England is certainly the only one in which adjudications still take place. I'm always amused by the reaction of foreign players who take up league chess in England. Their jaws invariably drop when the rules concerned with adjournments and, particularly, adjudications are explained to them.

As for the argument that abandoning adjournments would cause many people to leave the game, I'm sure that the problem is not so great. My experience is, in actual fact the complete opposite. The club I play for in London, the Athenaeum Chess Club, had a number of members who threatened not to play any more in the Middlesex League if a quick play finish could be enforced if one of the players wanted one. In fact none of these players stopped playing and the club picked up a new member, who had given up on league matches because he had an abiding hatred of adjourned games.

Stronger still, I know of several other players who gave up and refuse to play chess because of the inconvenience of adjournments and know of no one at all that ever gave up because of the imposition of quick play finishes.

I therefore submit that adjournments and adjudications breach chess ethics by introducing external assistance and that adjournments actually make the game sufficiently unattractive that many players are lost to the game because of them.

They belong to a byegone era; time to consign them to books where future generations of chess players will read of them amongst other quaint historical anecdotes.

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Post by Peter Shaw » Thu Apr 12, 2007 9:09 pm

Greg Breed wrote: The alternative - time controls that mean 'on-the-night' finish - would drive away a real chunk of the playerbase.
On the other hand, I wonder how many players are put off playing in a league because of adjudications. I for one would stop playing if my evening leagues introduced them. Fortunately adjudications seem to be unheard of in Yorkshire.

I don't see how you can possibly grade a game where a result can be decided by adjudication. I've never had the misfortune to play with them, but doesn't it completely change the nature of the game? The idea of a game of chess is to checkmate the opponent's king. With adjudications, the idea of chess is to have 'a winning position' at move number X in the opinion of some third party.

Isn't it obvious that for a game to be included in the players' grades, the result must be determined by the players?

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Greg Breed
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Post by Greg Breed » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:54 am

Don't get me wrong. I personally would love a change to quick-play finishes, but most of my club and a good percentage of my local league are retired men who play for the enjoyment of the game rather than a frantic finish where they can't think. They would probably continue to play for a season in the League but after, i reckon they would rather just play at the club.

If something like this did come into play I would support it. I'm just saying that the old guard will rebel. Most of them don't have computers or they're computer illiterate. (This I know for a fact as trying to get them to email results is like trying to draw blood from a stone! :roll: ) This means that they're unlikely to resort to computer analysis. However, I'm willing to concede that computers can be (and are being) used as analysis tools in a lot of adjourned games.

So from that perspective, no they shouldn't be graded.
Last edited by Greg Breed on Fri Apr 20, 2007 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mike Gunn
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Post by Mike Gunn » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:05 pm

I always opt for quickplay finishes and would (personally) be happy for them to apply universally, but it's a mistake to underestimate the opposition amongst some league chess players.

The captain of my club's first team stood down last year when the first division of one of the leagues we play in went over to Fischer timings. I have been going to a couple of league AGMs for about 10 years where this issue is debated more years than not but in neither case have the proposers of 100% quickplay finishes ever got the 51% of the votes they need to bring the change in.

Help with adjournment analysis has been a feature of all levels of chess (from the world championship down) for at least the last 60 years. Adjournments only started to disappear when chess programs approached master strength.

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Post by Phil Neatherway » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:19 pm

I can see the arguments in favour of quickplay finishes. However, I feel they discriminate against the older player. As you get older, it's harder to maintain the level of concentration for the whole playing session, and to cap it all, of the game goes the distance, there is 30 minutes of high-intensity action which can finish after 10.30pm. In the last season, I have made 4 one-move blunders which have necessitated my immediate resignation, and 3 of them have occurred after 10pm. This doesn't seem to be a problem for the students of Oxford University, for example! So maybe games with quickplay finishes should be excluded from grading as they are not a level playing field!

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Post by John Saunders » Thu Apr 19, 2007 6:02 pm

I fully agree with Chris Majer's statement as regards adjudication at the head of this thread. I don't think it can be argued that adjudication is illegal under any rule that I have seen (which are silent about what happens when a chess game is left unfinished). Adjudication has long since fallen out of favour and will surely disappear before long of its own accord. A bit of active discouragement will help it on its way.

That said, I complete sympathise with Phil's comments about QPF. I too dislike the quickplay finish, the more so because it has an unfair, adverse effect on my grade. I agree with Phil's suggestion and would be happier to put up with QPF if such games were not included in my standardplay grade. I suggest that games which have a fixed playing session of 3 hours or less should be treated as rapidplay for grading purposes. If such a game goes to an adjournment, that is a different matter. But I don't think it is fair to brigade games played completely within these abbreviated sessions alongside standardplay chess in the 4NCL, Hastings, etc.

Anyway, I think that the QPF was introduced for the purpose of making weekenders viable, as was the decision to allow such games for grading purposes. Youngsters will be amazed to hear that they used to have adjudications at weekenders 30 odd years ago - it was a nightmare! But the QPF was not really intended to apply to league chess. I don't mind weekender games being eligible for standard grades - the playing sessions are usually longer than evening league chess. If you have four hours to play a game, it's probably fair enough to grade as standardplay.

Actually (as I have said at the Atticus CC forum), I would personally prefer a format of two rapidplay games in an evening for league chess. This has been tried successfully in various parts of the country. It's more fun, doesn't damage your standard grade, gives you the chance to get your own back if you mess up the first game - and it is proof against cheating (no time for people to collude either by chatting or going out to send/receive text messages). Of course, rapidplay in this context has some downsides: some players simply don't like fast chess; it does nothing to improve your endgame play; and it is hard to keep score beyond 20-30 moves. If you are like me, you then spend half the night when you get home trying to reconstruct what happened!

Getting back to QPF: what bugs me is the notion that you can mix two formats (standardplay and QP) and still treat the result as if a serious chess game has been played. It's unfair, unnecessary and discriminates against the older player. I therefore second Phil's motion, to get short-session QPF-terminated games treated for grading purposes as rapidplay.

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John Saunders
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Post by John Saunders » Thu Apr 19, 2007 6:21 pm

Mike Gunn wrote:Help with adjournment analysis has been a feature of all levels of chess (from the world championship down) for at least the last 60 years. Adjournments only started to disappear when chess programs approached master strength.
Perfectly true as far as it goes, Mike. But I think the abolition of adjournments in master chess was more to do with arbiters disliking having to work extra shifts! The computer thing was just an excuse.

If you think about it, the use of a computer would actually make adjournment analysis more egalitarian. In the bad old days, the famous Russian GM could get on the hot line to the Moscow Central Chess Club or get his travelling second to cook up some red-hot endgame moves while he had his dinner or had a shower. You and I, and even the lower rated pros, had to make do with a quick thumb through 'Basic Chess Endings'. These days we would all use the same resource - Fritz (OK, or Rybka or Shredder) and an endgame tablebase. What's so unfair about that? It's the same for everyone.

No - I think the abolition of adjournments was a cunning plan on the part of arbiters to cut their working week. It is also true that some of the pros didn't like adjournments either. Some high-status players probably feared that players with lesser resources might steal a march on them. Either way, I'm pretty sure adjournments actually disappeared because some big shots out there didn't like them - the computer thing is a red herring.

Personally I would like to see a few prestige tournaments reintroduce adjournments as an experiment. It might revive the lost art of endgame play.

Sean Hewitt

Post by Sean Hewitt » Thu Apr 19, 2007 6:45 pm

Crikey John. I didnt have you down as a pipe and slippers man.

Are you warm in your arran jumper?!!

Yours dissapointedly,

:lol:

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John Saunders
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Post by John Saunders » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:58 pm

Sean

Yes, my disco dancing days are well and truly over. Have been for more than 30 years, actually.

I take it you won't be joining my 'Campaign for Real Endgames' then?

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